Being Human

May 22, 2019

Patting myself on the back for continuing working through my emotions and the many situations I am faced with through family life and community life. Like I said before I am many things, at one point I was even a pretty poor parent and friend. I have promised myself to work on being a better person though. I have thought a lot about my previous posts and fear I have slimed some of you with my anxiety and depression, but I know and understand the importance of being real. Because of the realness other people have shown me I have been able to share openly.

I recently had the chance travel to Juneau for a Librarian Leadership Workshop. The trip was more than a learning experience through library work but also a journey further into my own heart. I had to quit counting my sober days because I unfortunately lost self-control the first night arriving into Juneau after an excruciating several hours of being stuck on the milk run flight down southeast Alaska, combined with nervousness and anxiety of leaving the kids and finally my ultimate weakness – being alone – I chose to self-medicate with a disgusting cheap bottle of wine that left me with the most vicious headache the following day. I was overcome with guilt and insecurity, but I learned a lot about myself in that moment. Coincidently the first two days of my leadership workshop were spent on Emotional Intelligence, if you haven’t heard about this subject, I strongly encourage you to look it up! I say coincidently because while learning about Emotional Intelligence, we were tasked with examining and testing our own Emotional Intelligence, which meant I had to decipher what I had done to myself, why I did it and how I could move forward. Focusing on my own feelings in a professional aspect was one the biggest challenges I have faced yet. The growth that occurred for me over those two days is unexplainable. I truly felt I was put there in that moment for a reason and I am such a better person because of it.

You see in life we all have pit falls but that does not mean we can’t change our outcomes. I am proud to say that since that night I haven’t touched another drop, I was able to practice my self-control the rest of the trip even though it would have been easy to enjoy booze without another soul knowing the rest of my time there. That is not who I want to be though, I want to be a confident woman, a good parent, a trusting wife and a role model for anyone I have the honor of meeting. I don’t want to be remembered by mistakes in life, political roles or even my Facebook feed, I want people to hear my name and remember me as a good human being.

 Self-control is a hard subject for a lot of people but it is something we need to talk more about and be open to learning ways of growing our own self-control. A lot of folks could sense my self-control slipping just by reading my last blog post and urged me to talk to someone or anyone when I felt like I was going to succumb, and like a big dummy I didn’t listen. I didn’t stop and tell anyone “hey, I am alone and am going to go buy a bottle of wine right now and will probably finish it off in one sitting”. I was first of all to worried about the judgement and second of all I believed I just had to get it out of my system and maybe I truly did because every drop of cravings I was dealing with were gone after that night. Nonetheless, I have been attempting to get through sobriety basically by myself and that has not been the best way to go about it. (Matt is still sober but for him not drinking hasn’t been an inner struggle). A dear friend of mine who was part of my inspiration to get sober added to me to a great Facebook group called Alaska Sisters in Sobriety, within the group I inquired about AA and how to start one or what the options are for if we don’t have a group where we live. I was so excited to find out there is a conference call in option! Moving forward I have vowed to reach out for support when I need it, to work through my inner most demons to continue to heal, and to start serving as a light for folks who might be in a season of dark.

What is working for me right now is getting out to walk as often as possible, praying deeply and being an active member of our church and making time for therapy sessions to talk about what might be consuming me in the moment. What is working for you in your self-care? If someone asked you today what you do for yourself what would you say? It only takes 30-60 minutes a day, make yourself a priority!

Love, Candace

The Struggle

It has been too long since my last post. I told you that was my greatest fault, keeping up and following through. Well, I made my way back. I wish that I could say I chose to come back on a happy note but that is not the case. I am almost 4 months into my sobriety and today I have craved a drink more than ever. A nice cool glass of wine, a chilled hard cider or an exceptionally strong, tart margarita on the rocks sound so amazing right now.

I just have to keep telling myself “you can do this, you can do this, you can do this” as well as say a little prayer to God. It is crazy the emotions you go through when you decide to quit drinking. Yes it was one thing to quit drinking because I was pregnant, but that was because the end goal and ultimate treat after being done being pregnant was a drink. Quitting using only my will power has been a trip and a half.

I haven’t been the best to myself in the sense of seeking therapy, unfortunately it seems like it takes an act of God to see a therapist through the health care system I have been afforded being Native. That has been a huge disappointment for me because I know I am not the only one struggling mentally out here. I have spoken up about the disappointment in that department and am praying for changes in that system so our people can receive the care and treatment they so need and deserve.

I ended up withdrawing from one of my two college classes this semester and am finding it so damn difficult to just complete the one I have left. I cannot commit the time that is required to succeed in the courses. I am seriously considering not registering for fall classes at this point because of the stress of trying to be a good mom, loving wife, caring daughter, decent housekeeper, library director, city janitor, ETT volunteer, church leader, preschool/kindergarten teacher, event host and community advocate all at once is not working for me.

It’s a lot. I will admit. Sometimes I think I don’t do enough and that I’m not getting anywhere but when I write it all down like that it puts it into perspective. It is truly too much and I am trying to step back from some of it and then something else comes up and it’s like if I don’t do it or make it happen then no one will…. I am fighting to make a good life for my kids, my husband, my mom and my community. Then I chose to cut out the biggest thing I leaned on to get through it all. That is what I do though, I push myself as hard as I can and even though it feels as if I am failing at it all there’s still satisfaction in knowing that at least I tried. The saying holds true – The struggle is real.

The point of this post was to be real about the fact that even though it has been exactly 115 days since my last taste of alcohol, it is still really really challenging but every day is rewarding knowing that I have won. I might suck at all those other things that I am currently trying to do in life but I can go to bed every night feeling accomplished because I’ve made it another day without the crutch of alcohol. I know in the future I will look back on these days and thank myself for staying strong and keeping faith.

Love, Candace

The Difficult Topic

I’m still here, still haven’t had any alcohol. I haven’t lost any weight but I’ve gained a tremendous understanding of myself and my mind and attitude. I have been struggling with speaking to a topic, that is what seems to me, to be the elephant in the room for a lot of folks. I have to say with a warning this can be a trigger for some and if you need help seeking someone to talk to please don’t hesitate to message me.

Recently our best friends lost a family member to suicide. It’s a tragic event that most of us have either heard of happening or have lost friends and loved ones too.

I grew up in the little village of Nelson Lagoon, when I was really young we lost a dear loved one to suicide and that was my first introduction to the devastation of suicide. I don’t remember how old I was but I was too young to fully understand but old enough to feel the pain, suffering, and sadness that engulfed the whole village. When I was in my teens I was also in Nelson Lagoon when a man hung himself on his boat. When I was at boarding school in Sitka a classmate was found in her room unresponsive after strangling her self, she was brought back to life but ended up dying in the hospital later on. I say all this because I need it as a reminder to myself what a tragic loss suicide is.

Suicide is difficult to grasp or understand. Most healthy individuals will go through their entire life without a single thought of killing themselves. This is extremely hard for me to admit and when I’m in a good place I feel guilt remembering moments where I questioned my life. I don’t want you to see me differently or treat me any kind of way other than you always have. But I have had this strange urge to share these very dark and sad moments that I have in my life. I’m learning now that that is something that depression does to people. You lose sight of all the wonderful you have to live for. The wonderful is different for everyone, for me, it is my kids and my family. At a time in my life, I convinced myself that they didn’t need me and I was not worthy of this life that God has so graciously given me. I convinced myself that I was a failure at everything (which is sooooo far from the truth!). I am working to pinpoint the events in my life that took me to that place of complete disparity so I never have to go through and feel that way again. I suffered alone and quietly. I felt guilty for thinking so terribly, I didn’t want to tell anyone how shitty I felt because either I felt they wouldn’t understand or that I would be giving them an unnecessary burden. I convinced myself that I had to figure it out on my own. DO NOT DO THAT. I only got worse, I masked as much as I could and become a miserable mess. I made really really bad decisions and made mistakes and I hurt my loved ones. I feel like there are a few people who felt like it wasn’t really all that necessary for me to quit drinking but what I know in my heart is that when I drank it only made it easier to think about suicide and if I didn’t give alcohol up I was afraid of what damage I would inevitably cause. I have about one million and 3 things to be grateful for and depression stole my ability to see that. Alcohol was the ugly vice that I used to drown my stresses and anxiety instead of facing it straight on. That’s my truth and I share it because it makes me feel like I am doing something for myself in a healthy way. Thank you for hanging in there with me. I’m getting better and I’ve promised myself to do whatever it takes to never feel so low again In my life. God did not put me on this earth to end my life before it has even begun.

So that is my story and this is my beginning. This is my effort to release my dark past and move on to becoming a happier healthier version of me. It is my way of giving myself the gift of life. I’ve said before my only goal in life is really to help others. I believe that by sharing my story not only am I helping myself but hopefully I’m making others aware of a hidden disease most of us suffer from. I am on a quest to learn more about mental health and depression. It saddens me how rampant suicide is, I wish I had an answer to erase it but the reality is it is a personal issue and there needs to be a shift in the world on how we view it. I should never have felt like I couldn’t talk about it or that I had to hide the ugly thoughts. Part of that was my personal depression I know but there is something else that doesn’t sit well with my heart and it is the perception we all have on the matter.

Please remember to be kind, pray often and know that life does not have to be a struggle.

Love, Candace

Who’s Your Village?

I’m on day 16 of no alcohol, it’s funny how originally when I quit it wasn’t to be done forever it was to take a break. That’s what I HAD to tell myself to just finally do it. I will admit this was not my first attempt at taking a ‘break’ from booze (of course with the exception of when I was pregnant). By making it 16 days I have really taken a step back and have realized a lot of what has been holding me down. I feel like I also have gained a greater understanding of depression just through so many people reaching out to me. Having the support and people tell me “hey you know this might be something worth really looking into” and only wanting to best for me has meant so so much. I am coming to terms with my mental health (or lack thereof) and I’ve also started making more time for myself. I know a lot of moms out there can relate with me in the department of not taking time for ourselves. My vice had become alcohol, while for others it could be different things or ways of coping. I got to visit with a really fantastic therapist through a loved one and he made the most profound statement to me which explained that yes it takes a village to raise a child, but that village should not go away as we become adults. All I could do was cry because it is so true. As humans we are in constant need of validation and support, as adults, I feel that we forget to express that our friends or family. When you have your own family and things going on in life it is easy to put off reaching out to a friend or making those personal face to face connections a priority.

I didn’t ever think I was depressed, I have a so much to be thankful for and live for, but I got to the point where in my mind I was saying “what’s the point”. Admitting that I feel that way makes me feel guilty and I feel guilty because I know there are people in this world that are is situations that are awful and heartbreaking. But I feel like that is apart of what depression can do to you, you begin to disregard the fact that mentally you are not in a good place. No one has ever looked me in the eye and said, “Hey these are the signs of depression, if you begin to feel this way this is what is available for you.” We see all over social media people share phone numbers and help sites. I’ve shared them myself but I have been under the impression that those are for people in a crisis. I did not feel like I was ever at that point. I would not want to take someone’s time to talk about my miniscule issues such as feeling like I am a terrible house keeper or that I’m struggling with juggling school, my children and my home. But unfortunately I let those little things add up, I have fallen victim to myself and the negativity I have developed through what I am guessing is depression. I am still unsure of calling myself depressed because I have not received that diagnoses. I wish it was a conversation that we had throughout our lives so when we become adults we are fully aware of ourselves and our mental health. If you asked me what mental health actually meant or looked like I don’t think my explanation would come close to the technical definition. I believe that is because it looks different for all of us. I am awaiting responses from my blood draw that is checking for vitamin deficiencies and other possible issues that might be contributing to why I feel like an unstable, lazy bum. The provider did happen to ask if I have ever suffered from Seasonal Affect Disorder, to which I had to chuckle…. Ya probably, I do live in COLD BAY ALASKA.. But when I have felt like a mess 24/7 I’ve never took the time to check in with myself and correlate when I feel the cruddiest with the time of year.

I don’t know what the point of all this is but it feels good to let it out and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read through my rambles. Do yourself a favor today, if you get a moment of quiet – sit down, close your eyes, relax your shoulders, take ten deep breaths and ask yourself how you feel at that moment? You might be surprised at what comes of it. I’ve been using the app Breathe and I try to practice a moment of meditation every day. I also have been reading more into my devotionals and take a moment to pray throughout the day. I am still struggling with irritableness and anxiety but it is helping me to bring peace into my heart. Again if you need to reach out, I am all ears, my only goal in my life is to help others. By helping myself I am getting closer to that goal. I feel honored and uplifted whenever anyone reaches out to me whether it is to say hi or to vent. I was raised in a village of people who communicate on a daily basis and I find myself longing for that again. I love you all.

Love, Candace

Not a need

Day 5,

When I think about never drinking alcohol of any sort ever again for the rest of my life I get a wave of anxiety, my chest tightens and I feel self doubt and a slight crazy creep up my throat. That is a problem. When I was pregnant quitting drinking was pretty easy considering I had to (I always told myself it’s only a few months and I can go back at it) but just quitting without anything making me is definitely more mentally challenging. My original goal was 2 weeks alcohol free. I started that way because any longer amount of time just gave me anxiety, but after opening up about my issue and receiving an out pour of support my ultimate goal is to never feel like I NEED alcohol, to not feel like I need it in my house, when I go for a drive, before a gathering, in the evening, celebrating something or whatever it is my mind insists I need it for. After only five days I am more productive, a lot less cranky and realize that I’ve been pretty immature over the issue (which through reading some articles written by others that have quit is common). I jokingly told Matt “I’m just not adult enough to drink” which actually isn’t far from the truth at all.

I was surprised by the amount of responses I got from my original post of people that would have never guessed I was suffering. I feel a pang if guilt, mostly to myself because I have been lying to myself for so long about my problems. Quitting drinking and getting help is my way of being honest with myself, and a way of making a step toward taking care of myself. I’ve made a hundred excuses of why I didn’t have time to take care of myself but I’m learning that was me letting the depression rule the way I was living.

If you’re thinking of taking a break and need a buddy to check in with you or to cheer you on please don’t hesitate to message me! I would be honored if you reach out to me. I also wanted to share the app I downloaded it’s I Am Sober. It tracks, checks in with you and gives you motivational quotes as you go along. I’ve enjoyed it so far! Hope this post finds you all well.

Love, Candace

I did it

Sharing yesterday really felt like a weight coming off my chest, I was worried for what kind of reactions I would get, I was worried people would think I was just whining but my goodness what a completely different reaction I received. Thank you to everyone that reached out and made me feel the love. I love writing and I love being open and sharing but admitting that I’ve struggled mentally and emotionally was so so hard. For some stupid reason all I’m worried about half the time is what other people think of me. I look forward to the day that I don’t carry that around. It’s fricken miserable.

How did I get here? How did I get in this rut? I feel like I know but in the same sense I don’t, because if I knew I could fix it. Living here in Cold Bay is Crazy, like literally crazy. Majority of my days are spent with my children and only them, now I fully understand there is a beauty in that but most people have known me as always wanting to be involved and surrounded by likeminded peers. Living here has been one of my biggest life undertakings after having children but it has been a choice that I know my future self will never regret… more of that to come…

I’m proud to share I powered through a dark moment last night, no wine included. It sucked and I completely lost my sh*t but I realized what I’ve been bottling up with every night of indulging. I don’t know if it was withdrawals, habit or emotional burnout but it I literally felt like I was hung over this morning. It was strange. Another thing I will admit is using wine as a sleep aid, I have miserable sleeps. Not because of the one year old but I have extremely vivid dreams where I will be half awake half asleep and completely disoriented. I’ve always been that way. Occasionally a night terror where demons are getting me and I’m screaming to try and wake myself up. (I know, what the hell right?) Going to sleep is a feat in itself. I overthink every single aspect of my life and can lay there for hours. I’ve tried melatonin and oils but the only thing that has been able to shut off the chaos in my mind has been alcohol. I know a lot of people suffer in the same way. I’ve read it probably a thousand times “do not use alcohol as a sleep aid!” Blah, it’s so much easier than anything else. I don’t want to take drugs, I just want to sleep. So here’s to crossing fingers some medical attention will give me answers and better sleep. Thank you to those who’ve read this far. You’re the best. Wilder is having a conniption now.

Love, Candace

New Year New Me

I have been on the fence about sharing this but yesterday I read that when you share a goal with others you are more likely to hold yourself accountable and follow through. I also wanted to share in case there are others out there that either have gone through struggles and have ideas on how to cope or if there’s anyone that needs to know they aren’t alone. I’m on the need to know I’m not alone boat. So for longer than I’d like to admit I have been in a dark place, I’ve tried hard to shrug it off and tell myself that I have way to much to be grateful for to feel anything else other than happiness. Well the holidays really did me in and I’ve decided that this year I am going to give the gift of life to myself. I am going to seek out help and quit ignoring all of my issues. Stress has been a huge issue for me, I don’t sleep right, I’ve taken to drinking every night to basically self medicate, I’ve gained weight, I’ve chewed the inside of my mouth till it’s bled, I am hardly capable on following through with tasks, I’ve lost complete motivation, my kids have suffered, my marriage has suffered, I am constantly irritable and have extreme mood swings. I am tired and am ready for a change. I want to be the healthiest and happiest I can be for my kids and myself. How am I going to do it? First is to avoid drinking, this is a tough one for me because it has become a bad habit. I’ve downloaded a sober app and I’ve created a goal of going 2 weeks without any booze. I am also going to attempt to go to the clinic to be evaluated by a medical professional although I regrettably admit I do not have much faith in our clinic or the organization that cares for the people of the Aleutians East. But I have to start somewhere and in everything I’ve read states seek medical attention.  One of my goals is writing more, which is why I’ve started a blog. It’s been something I have wanted to do for a long time I’ve just never followed through. So I will leave this for now as I have a crying one year old that is starved for attention, thank you for those who have read this far. Normally I would apologize for complaining and squabbling but that is dismissing my issues and I’m making an effort to not do that anymore.

Love, Candace